Washington Lauds Rabat’s Mature & Balanced Approach Regarding Sahara Issue
Under Secretary of State for political affairs Thomas A. Shannon hailed Morocco for its mature and balanced approach in dealing with the Sahara issue, describing the proposal made by the North African country to grant autonomy status to the disputed territory as “realistic, serious and credible.”
“Morocco’s autonomy proposal is realistic, serious and credible,” and the Kingdom “adopts a mature and balanced approach on the Sahara issue,” Shannon said in an interview published Friday by local daily Akhbar Al Yaoum.
He deemed that Morocco’s ambitious plan for the territory will be accepted by all sides and enable a peaceful settlement of the crisis that is fuelled by regional rival Algeria which supports the separatist Polisario front.
“Given that the Sahara is a priority for Morocco, it is also a priority for the United States,” said Thomas Shannon who has just wound up a visit to Morocco, first leg of a tour that will also take him to Tunisia, Algeria, Burkina Faso, and Mali.
The US official met with Junior Foreign Minister Mbarka Bouaida with whom he discussed in addition to bilateral relations a set of regional issues.
“Morocco is a partner whose priorities and interests matter to us,” Shannon said.
To a question on lack of security cooperation between Rabat and Algiers, Shannon indicated that the US is ready to facilitate security cooperation between the two countries to secure borders.
The number two man in the State Department also commended Morocco for its crucial part in the fight against terrorism, mainly its efforts in Syria. He pointed out in this vein that Washington and Rabat are working together on how to curb the flux of foreign fighters in war-torn Syria.
“We adopted four measures to solve that problem, namely disrupt terrorist networks’ sources of funding, dismantle jihadist recruiting cells, control and arrest returnees and share intelligence between security services,” Shannon said.
He likewise lauded Rabat for its role in the Libyan Dialogue it hosted and that was crowned by a peace deal, providing for a new national unity government.
The official did not discard the contingency of a US military assistance to the unity government, saying “given that we are part of the international coalition against terrorism, we can say that this coalition is willing to provide this type of assistance.”